Bosnia & Herzegovina, without a doubt, owns the title of ‘the heart of Europe’ with its borders loosely resembling the universal symbol of love. Seems only fitting considering that it also happens to be one of the most welcoming places I’ve ever visited on the continent and full of people with some of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met; add the exceptionally beautiful landscapes, a fascinating history, diverse culture, and a great value for the budget-minded traveler and you have yourself a star European tourist destination, ready for its close-up.
From the mountains to the sea (yes, seriously, it has a sea), here are twelve amazing places around Bosnia AND Herzegovina you should know about before planning a visit.
1. Capital Sarajevo
Sarajevo is simply special and, by far, one of the most unique capital cities in Europe. I haven’t met too many people who have visited and didn’t fall in love a little for a number of reasons: the sinfully delicious food, its surrounding mountain scenery, the kindness of the locals, or its unbreakable spirit.
2. Lukomir Mountain Village
Lukomir is a magical mountain village where very traditional Bosnian lifestyle has been fully maintained. It is not as isolated as it used to be due to its increased popularity and the growing number of tour operators offering it as day trip from Sarajevo. For sure, an experience you can’t find in too many other places in Europe anymore.
3. Sutjeska National Park
Konjic is a pleasant town, a home of Stara Cuprija, a well-preserved Ottoman-era Old Bridge. Hidden in its hills is one of the best-kept military secrets in Yugoslav history, Tito’s 6,500 square meter nuclear bunker, ARK D-0, now open for tours.
The largest city in the Herzegovina region, Mostar is one of the top attractions in the entire country thanks to its impressive Ottoman old town and Stari Most (Old Bridge) that straddles the turquoise Neretva. Large number of day trippers breeze through here, but it’s best to give it a couple of days to really soak it in. Make sure to get acquainted with some of the other attractions like its golden statue of Bruce Lee.
Blagaj, located in Mostar’s backyard just 8 kilometers away, is one of the most photographed spots in the country and it isn’t hard to see why. With fresh water flowing out from the spring of the Buna river in all different shades of cyan, and a wonderfully preserved and still functioning tekke, it is an enchanting little spot to have a Bosnian coffee or lunch.
Pretty, pretty Počitelj is another Ottoman-era gem with a medieval twist that is popular amongst artists, good for a quick wander through the old town, or climbing up into its fortress which overlooks the Neretva river.
Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s southernmost city, makes a perfect base for exploring some of the country’s best wineries, partaking in some light outdoor adventure, and day tripping to neighboring Croatia and Montenegro (it’s approximately 30 kilometers from Dubrovnik and 40 kilometers from Herceg Novi). With its lovely old town and the tranquil Trebisnjica River running through, it’s the kind of place you may book for only a couple of nights and end up staying a week.
Unbeknownst to many, beaches in Bosnia actually exist and they are sandwiched between Croatia in the country’s only seaside town, Neum. It’s one of the cheapest beach holidays you can find on the Adriatic and one hell of a visual throwback to Tito times.
Visegrad is a place for Balkan history/culture buffs as this is where the infamous Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge sits on the Drina River. Its claim to international fame is as the focal point in Ivo Andric’s Nobel Prize winning chronicle “The Bridge on the Drina”.
11. Una National Park
Una National Park hugs the country’s western border with Croatia, near the town of Bihac. Biking, hiking and rafting are all on the menu. Whatever you do, do not miss its main attraction: the largest waterfall on the Una River, Štrbački Buk.
12. Prokoško Lake
Nestled up on Vranica mountain in an area known as the ‘Switzerland of Bosnia’, Prokoško Lakeis an amazing place to go if you are a lover of nature or feeling like you just need a break from the world, 1636 meters above sea level.